Information Technology:

VA Actions Needed to Implement Critical Reforms

AIMD-00-226: Published: Aug 16, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 16, 2000.

Contact:

David L. McClure
(202) 512-3000
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) efforts to address GAO's recommendations to improve VA's information technology (IT) program.

GAO noted that: (1) VA had made progress in addressing GAO's 1998 recommendations regarding its information technology efforts; (2) for example, compared with its fiscal year (FY) 1999 IT investment review process, VA's FY 2001 process provided decisionmakers with more detailed information on proposed projects; (3) however, VA's progress in addressing other key issues had been limited, such as appointing an assistant secretary for information and technology, developing an overall strategy for reengineering its business processes, and developing an integrated IT architecture; (4) further, VA faced challenges in developing and implementing three key IT projects--the Master Veteran Record, the Veterans Benefits Administration's information systems modernization (Veterans Service Network), and the Veterans Health Administration's decision support system; (5) taken together, these remaining issues will need to be successfully addressed if VA is to realize its goal of "One VA" and meet the provisions of the Clinger-Cohen Act; and (6) sustained top management support and leadership will also be required.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: Full implementation of key provisions of the Clinger-Cohen Act is required by law and provides a foundation for an agency's effective use of IT. Therefore, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take action to ensure that VA fully addresses these key provisions by reassessing VA's decision to delegate business process reengineering to the individual administrations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA's enterprise architecture provides the department with a top-level, department-wide framework to coordinate and integrate improvement of VA's mission-related processes. A fundamental focus of VA's enterprise architecture is reduction of redundancy of information technology systems and data across department program and business lines (i.e. reengineering of mission-related business processes). To comply with VA's enterprise architecture, the department's administrations and staff offices cannot independently develop information technology systems. Rather, under VA's enterprise architecture governance and development process they must submit proposals for information Technology systems to the department Chief Information Officer for review and concurrence that the proposals conform to the department's "One-VA Enterprise Architecture." In this way, VA is coordinating and integrating information technology improvement projects, and providing the basis for its "One-VA" vision of providing veterans with a unified view of VA services.

    Recommendation: Full implementation of key provisions of the Clinger-Cohen Act is required by law and provides a foundation for an agency's effective use of IT. Therefore, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take action to ensure that VA fully addresses these key provisions by filling the position of assistant secretary for information and technology as quickly as possible to provide the needed leadership to achieve the "One VA" vision.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation, and in 1998, it established the position of assistant secretary for information and technology to serve as VA's chief information officer (CIO). However, the position remained unfilled from 1998 to 2001, with various VA officials serving as acting CIO for the department during this time. The newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs made obtaining a full-time CIO one of his top priorities in 2001, and subsequently, the White House submitted the name of a nominee for VA CIO to the Senate for confirmation. This nominee was confirmed by the full Senate and was sworn in on August 10, 2001.

    Recommendation: Timely in-process reviews are a key component of the IT decision-making process and assist VA in controlling approved projects. Therefore, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take action to improve VA's IT investment decision-making process by developing and implementing guidance to better manage IT projects below the Capital Investment Board threshold.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA agreed with this recommendation. According to recent VA testimony, guidance on processes for selecting, controlling, and evaluating IT investments below the Capital Investment Board thresholds has been distributed to VA agencies.

    Recommendation: Timely in-process reviews are a key component of the IT decision-making process and assist VA in controlling approved projects. Therefore, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take action to improve VA's IT investment decision-making process by providing decisionmakers, such as investment panel members, with information on lessons learned from post-implementation reviews of IT projects so that they can use such data in making better informed judgments about projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA agreed with this recommendation, and stated that it would provide post-implementation review findings to investment panel members in the future. VA's Information Technology Investment Guide contains instructions on conducting post-implementation reviews to enable the department's IT decisionmakers to monitor and manage IT projects. The guide also states that VA's IRM Planning and Acquisition Service will capture lessons learned, place them in a reference library, and brief the CIO Council and investment panel as appropriate. In 2001, a contractor performed post-implementation reviews on The Image Management System and National Enrollment System. VA has scheduled post-implementation reviews of two additional systems (Picture Archiving System and Personal Computer leasing in VISN 21) in 2002, and of seven additional information systems in 2003. VA stated that the results of post-implementation reviews are being provided to decisionmakers in order to permit them to make better informed decisions on future IT projects.

    Recommendation: Timely in-process reviews are a key component of the IT decision-making process and assist VA in controlling approved projects. Therefore, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take action to improve VA's IT investment decision-making process by establishing and monitoring deadlines for completing formal in-process reviews at key milestones in a project's life cycle.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In 2002, under VA's enterprise architecture development effort, the department synchronized in-process reviews of IT projects within an integrated IT management process. VA's new IT system life-cycle management process requires that formal progress reviews of all IT projects be conducted at five major decision points (milestones) over the life cycle of the projects. According to VA, these milestone reviews provide the basis for comprehensive project management, progressive decisionmaking, and funding authorization at each step in the process through ongoing monitoring and oversight.

    Recommendation: Full implementation of key provisions of the Clinger-Cohen Act is required by law and provides a foundation for an agency's effective use of IT. Therefore, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take action to ensure that VA fully addresses these key provisions by directing the department's Chief Information Officer or designee to lead the effort and work with VA business owners to develop a logical architecture as a step toward an integrated IT architecture.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA agreed with the recommendation. In April 2001, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs established a team and charged it with developing a high-level enterprise architecture plan for VA. At that time, he designated VA's Acting Chief Information Officer to lead the effort, with the assistance of VA's Special Advisor to the Secretary on Information and Technology, and in concert with VA business owners. In August 2001, VA completed its Enterprise Architecture: Strategy, Governance, & Implementation--its guide to define, implement, and maintain its enterprise architecture. In 2002, VA developed a first draft of its enterprise architecture, which contains elements of the department's baseline and target architectures, information flows, data descriptions, technical reference manual, and standards profile.

    Apr 2, 2014

    Feb 26, 2014

    Feb 12, 2014

    Jan 13, 2014

    Nov 13, 2013

    Nov 6, 2013

    Sep 12, 2013

    Sep 11, 2013

    Looking for more? Browse all our products here